How to get the competitive edge from your building analytics

by FM Media
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Here are four ways to leverage building analytics to reduce operating expenditure, increase equipment lifecycle and inform capital upgrade decisions, by David Walsh.

Australia’s built environment is accelerating progress towards net zero targets. Building owners, investors and managers in all large buildings, offices, shopping centres, airports and public attractions in Australia are increasing their focus on sustainability initiatives and on quantifiable progress against metrics.

Fast tracking net zero ambitions isn’t just a regulatory or political imperative – it’s smart business. Energy costs are a significant and rising expense. In Australia, about a quarter of all energy use and 10 percent of carbon emissions come from commercial buildings. Buildings that are less energy efficient are more costly to operate and find it harder to attract new tenants.

The key to achieving peak performance and reducing emissions is to get the greatest possible value from the assets you already have. And that means using data and analytics to understand the operations of built assets. It’s possible to now take data from hundreds of different types of equipment and build a complete picture of what is happening.

Here are four ways to leverage building analytics to reduce operating expenditure, increase equipment lifecycle and inform capital upgrade decisions.

1. Data-driven decision making and governance

Building analytics provides superior granularity into current and historical building performance, making it easier for management teams to accurately forecast, budget, and run scenario modelling. Insights and outcomes generated from analytics can be leveraged to inform new policies and enable business transformation.

IoT sensors enable real-time performance monitoring and provide data that can be used to schedule pre-emptive and just-in-time maintenance. When the performance of a machine starts to drift away from its optimal specification, an alert can be triggered to a maintenance engineer who can fix the issue before it escalates.

Almost any machine can be monitored but much of the data that is produced has traditionally remained opaque, unlocking it is incredibly valuable. Great decisions always start with having timely access to the right information. Investing in technology that can collect the right data and normalise it so it can be used is a critical first step.

2. Measuring performance

Building analytics enables property owners and managers to set key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure quantifiable progress against metrics that can assist with industry compliance and reports to the board and investors.

This can include indoor temperature, CO₂ levels, customer satisfaction, occupancy, tenant and customer feedback and tenancy renewal rates. Building analytics can accurately pinpoint the best and worst performing zones within a building and make it easier to identify and resolve equipment faults and comfort issues.

3. Meet and exceed ESG targets

There are a number of industry-recognised sustainability ratings and indices for the built environment. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) is now at the forefront of corporate objectives as investors and stakeholders place increasing importance on delivering climate positive returns as well as financial returns. Improving the sustainability performance of each asset through energy reduction, improved thermal comfort, and better indoor air quality will positively impact your GRESB, WELL, NABERS, GreenStar, BREEAM and LEED rankings.

Each one of these standards offers valuable insights into the environmental fingerprint of a building. As different stakeholders require different insights and information, it’s unlikely that any single set of data will satisfy such a diverse set of needs. While achieving an initial rating in any of these systems is important, ongoing assessment is crucial. Many investment bonds, for example, require ongoing measurement to ensure compliance for the duration of the bond. And boards are increasingly concerned with the long-time viability of building assets. This is why access to current, historical and modelling projections on future performance through data is key.

4. Better insights for facility managers and contractors

Building analytics empowers facility managers and contractors to make more informed decisions. Having access to the right data allows teams to better understand their buildings and the complex network of services within. Dashboards provide facilities managers and contractors with a forum to share knowledge, troubleshoot problems and track outcomes, smashing through the historical silos that have kept insights hidden. This dramatically improves the time it takes to diagnose faults and resolve issues while reducing expenditure.

Using data intelligently helps facilities managers take the gut feel and guess work out of operational and capital expenditure decision making. By collecting data and using it with AI and machine learning models, technicians can detect and remediate issues faster than ever before, resulting in improved operational efficiencies and reduced downtime. And the C-suite can be empowered to make better judgements about where to allocate capital funds.

The performance of many large buildings can be improved but building owners and managers have lacked the data to understand precisely what changes they need to make to avoid wastes of money and energy. By applying intelligent, data-driven tools in the right place, building owners and managers can detect these opportunities for improvement.

David Walsh is founder and CEO of CIM.

Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash.

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